ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ/US Marshals Release) – 33 missing children have been recovered in Virginia in the last week as part of an operation involving US Marshals. They called it “Operation Find Our Children.”
During one of the recoveries in the Roanoke area, a missing 16-year-old girl was found to be with two men who were then arrested. Evidence of drug trafficking was found, and one of the men, a convicted felon, had a loaded pistol in his possession, according to investigators.
In another case, a 14-year-old girl was reported missing by her family in southwest Virginia. The investigation uncovered evidence she was a victim of human trafficking, and she was found and returned to her family.
Led by Deputy US Marshals from the eastern and western federal judicial districts of Virginia, along with special agents, police officers and detectives from federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies, more than 60 investigators were part of the team, according to the US Marshals Service. They were joined by the Virginia Department of Social Services and various medical professions.
“The U.S. Marshals Service has a legendary history of finding fugitives and bringing them to justice,” said Thomas L. Foster, United States Marshal for the Western District of Virginia. “Because of this specialized skill set, finding missing children is a natural extension of the Marshal’s mission. Although many of the 33 recoveries occurred in Virginia’s larger population centers, seven occurred in the Western District of Virginia to include Roanoke and Abingdon. This operation brought missing and exploited children to a place of safety and those who made the decision to prey upon them to justice. We will find you.”
“There is no greater mission for law enforcement than rescuing an endangered child,” said Acting United States Attorney Daniel P. Bubar of the Western District of Virginia. “I applaud the United States Marshals in the Western and Eastern Districts of Virginia for their leadership and willingness to leverage their expertise and partner with sister agencies to bring missing children home. We stand ready to investigate and prosecute any leads that come from this important operation.”
“The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children was pleased to support the U.S. Marshals Service and the many support organizations that helped find and rescue these children,” said John F. Clark, President and CEO of NCMEC. “Missing children are extremely vulnerable to being trafficked for sex and are at risk of further emotional and physical harm. Because of this operation, 33 children have been found and are now safe.”
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